Speak

Speak

Speak Part 3, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Since she is friendless, Melinda has begun to bring brown bag lunches to school in order to avoid the cafeteria as much as possible. When she writes a note to her mother asking for supplies to make bologna sandwiches, she comes home to find a fridge full of her favorite junk foods. She considers talking to her mother and father (whom she calls Them), but worries that she will say the wrong thing.
Since Heather’s betrayal, Melinda has completely given in to the idea of being isolated. Rather than being a good sign, her desire to talk to her parents instead proves how alone she really is.
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Melinda tries to read as she eats alone, but can’t concentrate because of the noise. She pretends to be a scientist experimenting on and observing all of her fellow students. She watches as the Marthas interview a new member, and wonders if they are laughing at her; imagines Heather fat and middle aged; and observes Rachel, who is wearing harem pants and a headscarf because she “is experimenting with Islam” sitting with an Egyptian exchange student named Hana. She also sees other students who are losers like her, but notes that she is the only person who is completely alone.
This passage represents both the best and the worst parts of Melinda’s isolation. A perceptive and sensitive person, Melinda is able to astutely observe various high school dynamics and to comment on them in an intelligent and insightful manner. At the same time, however, being alone and isolated is deeply detrimental to her mental health, and only fuels her jealousy and self-hatred.
Themes
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon